10 decades of success

From child prodigies to late bloomers, we highlight 10 individuals who found success at different stages of their lives.

Childhood: Shirley Temple
success at every stage shirley temple

Before the age of 10, Shirley Temple enjoyed four years as the top box-office draw in America, earning an unprecedented $50,000 per film from 20th Century Fox in the late 1930s. She gave definition to the term child star, which was the title of her autobiography.

But early success often comes with the cost of devoting your childhood to hard work rather than play. Temple acted in four films a year at an age when ordinary children swing in the playground and master cursive writing.

"The early young chargers are willing to sacrifice freedom and choice at a young age," says Bruce Tulgan, New Haven-based consultant and author of It's Okay to Be the Boss. "They put in a huge amount of time and energy in a focused pursuit at a very young age."

Although Temple retired from movie-making at age 22, that early sacrifice gave her the platform and name recognition to become active in politics, serve on corporate boards, and fill the role of U.S. ambassador to Czechoslovakia during the administration of President George H.W. Bush.

  @FortuneMagazine - Last updated June 13 2013 11:14 AM ET
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